Monday, 8 October 2012

Jeff's introduction to Jo's puppy ... aaaaaaaahhhhhhh cute!

Meike working her magic with enamel application. 

This is the result .... such a beautiful pattern ... sorry I don't have a better picture. Mieke is known for her unique and "how the hell did she do that" patterns which she has largely come up with through years of experimenting and doing things that the manufacturers of enamels tell you not to do .... my words not hers..  Her works go through many many many firings to build up the amount of layers and pattern you see on her finished works.

While at North Lands there was birthdays a plenty! This is Paul Marioni's teaching assistant Luisa Restrepo's getting ready to take a swing at her birthday piƱata.  

If you can't spend your birthday with your family and old friends I would highly recommend spending it at North Lands with new friends!! 

Durring the conference Luisa asked if I wanted to help with a demonstration she had been asked to do. She was going to sand cast a mexican sacred heart that she wanted to pick up. I am a big fan of hot sculpting so I jumped at the chance and suggested some wings in addition to hot sculpted fire on top of the heart. 

Luisa preparing the mould. The graphite blocks were used to create clean spots to pick-up and join components to the heart.  

Sculpting the wings which were then put away in the pick-up kiln for later.

Pouring the heart

When working together or trying things for the first time it is always best to try them in front of crowds ....  Picking up the heart out of the sand mould was exciting .... 

Luisa tweaking and shaping and the lovely Jamie Gray on the torch.  

The finished heart just before it was put into the kiln.

The lovely crew; myself, Luisa Restrepo, Ebony Addinsoll, and Julie Chapman with Jamie Gray (on torch) and Grace (the pool shark and a part of the fantastic staff at Northlands on the doors) not appearing in this picture.

Part of Susan's class was image transfers onto glass.... if your from the UK you call them transfers ... if you are from Australia or North America you call them decals. This is Susan working out the the placement of a large decal/transfer. 

Working out all the air bubbles and getting the final placement just right before firing.

As well as enamels, glass paints ... yes they are different .... as I found out, and decals/transfers we also were using photo-resists. This is the start of my work on two glass domes I brought. Both the figure and the tree have been sandblasted onto the domes using a photo-resist. 

They were then filled with black enamels and fired. 

After the black was fired on I then started applying colours for a sunset behind the church. All the images for this work .... and all the work I did while at North Lands, except the stencil image of myself, were taken from the local area. In my own work I have aways been interested in the link between place and identity and as a visual artist in a new environment much of my understanding about that place is derived from the visual environment in conjunction with the people and my own experience within that environment. The silhouette on the back of the dome is an old church just down the road from North Lands studio building and the tree is a tree just outside.     

Due to time limitations I layered the sky colours in less firings then I would have liked.

After final firing.

This is the back of the work ... inspired by the lovely Meike Groot and using her enamel mixture and application method. 

 Another work that didn't survive the shipping ..... 

The image was a sandblasted photo-resist filled with black enamel it is an image of two scottish divers in old style brass and copper diving outfits.   

work coming out of kiln.

Meike and Jamie digging in to the chocolate .... mmmmm chocolates.

Everyone working hard coming up to the final day and trying to get final works ready for the last firing. 

Meike was in and out of the studio through the whole class adding to and building up her samples.

More beautiful Meika samples ... these were built-up over many many firings.

Class critiques and some examples of students work. 

Planning my multi-layered work.  

This work ended up around 10 layers with around 1 cm between each layer. The images were all collected from the local area and show a contrast between the great span that exists in the UK between the very very old and the new. 

This is a Jeff Zimmer version ..... He places a textured piece of glass in front to soften and obscure the layers behind. Has a beautiful atmospheric feel with the inclusion of the frosted glass. 

Final drinks ..... whisky of course. 

I learned so much in this class I will have to go back through my notes just to remember everything I learned!! 

This was such a great trip!! The only thing better then learning a whole bunch of new techniques and working with glass everyday was getting to know such a great group of people. Not only were both groups of fellow student in each class really wonderful, fun and talented people, and the instructors and teaching assistants engaging, helpful and knowledgeable but the North Lands staff where great! I was taken care of from the minute I arrived at North Lands until the the day I left, they arranged great accommodation,  drove us all over the countryside ..... (if you ever want to learn how to drive a bus like a race car you should talk to Lorna .... Do you offer classes Lorna?) to see amazing historical sites, museums, exhibitions, great restaurants ... (where they are very fond of potato's ... lots of potatoes .... prepared in many different ways ..... on the same plate .... yes .. at the same time ... ), they prepared amazing and tasty dinners ... thanks Jo and Meike! they organised artist talks, played pool .... still have a picture of your pool face Grace ... might post it later ... might not ... what's in it for me if I don't?, they had what you needed even before you knew you needed it ... thanks Michael and Jamie you both are such stars!!, some staff even brought their children in to ask deep and philosophical questions that managed to stump a whole group of professional artists ... including Paul Marioni himself  ... such as "ummm ... why do you work with glass?" thanks for that Lorna we are all still rolling that one around in our heads ....  

All in all my time at North Lands was fantastic ... truly fantastic! I am sure I will be digesting and incorporating much of what I learned in these classes for a long time to come. I can't say thank-you to the Wagga Wagga Art Gallery and Michael and all the staff in the Glass gallery enough!! From start to finish this was a wonderful, inspiring, engaging, educational and really really fun experience.

Now some of you might be looking at your calendar and thinking .... "hmmm didn't the classes at North Lands end a while ago? ...." and "what took Chris so long to wrap it all up? ..." Well I am glad you asked!! After my time at North Lands I had arranged .... and by arranged I mean I asked .... I think begged is to strong a word ... yes I asked my beautiful partner Gabriella if she would mind terrible being a single parent for just another ten days so I could rent a car and drive from Inverness to London with a good friend from Canada ..... Now I know what your thinking ... "Chris wasn't three and a half weeks enough!?" ... and your right ... but it was work related! You see before I left for Scotland I had made arrangements to stop by and tour some of the glass programs around the UK ... see I told you .. work. I'll be posting some of my pictures and experiences from these ten days in a bit ..... sorry .. stuff takes time when you have a 16 month old daughter ..... honestly she is like a whirlwind! Just when you think you have it figured out she learns some new trick ..... like pulling the dogs tail ... or trying to pass blocks to her grandparents .... on Skype ..... THROUGH your computer screen ...... or playing bounce with your iPhone .... good thing she is so darn cute!! 

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Hey hey, sorry for the delayed update. To say that Susan Stinsmuehlen-Amend's class was full-on would be a gross understatement. If you haven't see her work here is a few examples and you can follow this link to see some more:

These works are created by layering multiple panels of glass that have all gone through numerous kiln firings. Susan also uses variety of techniques to translate her images and ideas onto the glass such as; decals that are fired, painting, blasting and many other techniques.  

We were each given a light table and a tool kit containing a variety of brushes, pallet knives, rulers, painting rests, etc. the light table helps you see what's you applied paint and its consistency will look like.  

Susan demonstrating how she mixes up her enamels ..... I don't have any experience with this .... and it's actually a lot more involved then I ever imagined. 

One of the focuses of the class was creating depth within our paintings. This was a demo where Suzan painted on both sides of the glass, black line work of one side and colours on the other. 

We were absolutely spoiled in this class for technical demo's, not only did we have Susan's expertise but we also had Jeff Zimmer as out teaching assistant. 

Jeff is known for creating many ....... many ......... many layered works that are both beautiful and thoughtful. You can find more examples of his work on his website:

These works are created by dividing up the scene into many different layers with each being painted on separate sheets of clears glass. When they are stacked, framed and backlit the illusion of space and depth is mesmerising. 

This is an image I created using a product called Razist. It is photosensitive sandblasting resist that allows you to translate black and white images into stencils that can then be blasted away in a sandblaster.
I am rubbing black enamel into the sandblasted texture. 

After it was fired I added colour on the back of the panel that was inspired by the colour of the local lichen. 

Working out the layering.

We used frames to allow us to see our works in different ways. 

Using Platinum luster, which goes you an "old mirror" look.

Creating test tiles for the Platinum lustre. 

Again we were really spoiled for technical expertise ... this is Mieke Groot, the creative director of North Lands and an all around amazing artist, demonstrating her techniques for enamel working. She primarily works on blown and 3-D forms and if you don't know her work I highly recommend that you have a look at her website:

Mieke with antlers and mixing enamels. 

The wonderful and knowledgable Michael Bullen who made popular such songs as; "how am I supposed to live without you" and "When a man loves a woman" ...... no wait ..... was that Michael Bolton? ... Well either way famous musician known for cheesy love songs or not Michael Bullen is one of the go-to people at North Lands and is like a walking encyclopaedia of glass painting ... among other things ..... and for those of you who are to young for encyclopaedia's they were like google in a book ... or many books .... yes ..... so to clarify Michael Bullen is like the physical manifestation of a google search on glass painting .... except without all the cheesy pictures of sun catchers ..... so I guess he is nothing like a google search on glass painting ..... and more like a factual collection of books on the subject .... so ....... I guess you could say that he knows a lot about it.   

Michael worked restoring historic stained glass windows for around 12 years and is full of tips and tricks of the trade.